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Persistence of STEM Major Students: The Impact of Parents and Peers on Major Satisfaction


Choosing a college major sets most students on a particular trajectory of study that can have a lasting impact on their academic achievement and ultimate career choice. The United States trails behind other developed nations in their Student STEM achievement scores. STEM career fields often feature high-paying and high-demand job opportunities, but choosing a STEM field of study and subsequent career may be impacted by a variety of considerations. This study seeks to understand how proximal social influences, specifically the influence of parents and peers, may relate to STEM major choice and subsequent major satisfaction amongst college students, providing a unique perspective on promoting STEM engagement and potential strategies for promoting the STEM major experience. Using a sample of 214 second-year undergraduate STEM students, we find that parent influence on STEM major choice does indeed have a negative, direct association with satisfaction with one’s major. This study examines the role that both parents and peers may serve in promoting STEM major satisfaction and provides suggestions for future research in this area.

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